Kentucky Labor Unions Try To Slow Right-To-Work Momentum

Published November 30, 2015

Kentucky labor leaders are trying to slow the state’s momentum toward a right-to-work law that would let Kentuckians opt out of paying union dues.

With Republican Gov.-elect Matt Bevin taking office next week, circumstances aren’t rolling in union bosses’ favor. Bevin was elected by a nine-point margin after campaigning on making Kentucky a right-to-work state.

Republicans control the Kentucky Senate, and the Democratic majority in the Kentucky House shrank to six when Louisville Rep. Denny Butler switched parties.

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers told the Louisville Courier-Journal more than a dozen other House Democrats have flirted with the idea of jumping ship. Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is a firm opponent of right-to-work.

Because all of the House members hoping to remain in office are up for re-election next November, Bevin’s big victory will loom over Democrats during the state legislative session starting Jan. 5.

In a right-to-work debate with Jim Waters of the free-market Bluegrass Institute on WEKU 88.9 after the election, Kentucky AFL-CIO president Bill Londrigan insisted forced union dues were necessary to cover unions’ representation costs.

Calling right-to-work “a way for big business to try and strangle unions so we can make less wages and bargain less contracts,” Londrigan suggested workers who don’t want to be forced to pay unions should quit their jobs and find work with non-union employers.

Right-to-work is “all about whether you can control the political system so you can turn back the clock on workers,” said Londrigan — who was paid $77,079 in 2012, based on the latest available Kentucky AFL-CIO IRS return.

Read More at Kentucky Watchdog

 Jason Hart ([email protected]) is a labor reporter for An earlier version of this article was published at Reprinted with permission.